Structuring for success — Part 1 of 3

How mobile app and gaming studios can optimize operationally regardless of location

  1. Domicile, banking and tax
  2. Access to capital, and operating UA/monetization effectively
  3. Blueprint for success

Domicile

Where and how you structure your business is super important and ideally you want to get this right from the get-go rather than have to try to unpick it later. For app and game studios, we’re concerned with both 1) where the publishing entity is located (i.e. the country where the app store account is registered and also faces ad networks) and 2) where the development takes place, for example if there is a physical office.

Tax

Tax regimes for early-stage companies vary wildly across the globe. Sometimes companies face an unfriendly tax regime which does not foster a climate of IP creation and growth. Typically taxes on profits are high and there are few incentives to start and grow IP based businesses.

  • Canada which has a long established and generous scheme of tax credits for gaming companies
  • Finland which has a well established match funding scheme for early stage tech companies
  • The UK with its VGTR tax credits scheme
  • And more recently Turkey — inspired by the success of some early M&A success of gaming studios offers incentives to keep studios domiciled in the country, which is also helpful for foreign inflows of USD into its banking system

IP ownership and protection

Registering and protecting intellectual property is a key long-term value driver for a gaming or app studio. It is at the core of value creation of a studio, and has to be registered and ideally protected internationally. Countries with a lax stance on IP protection are unlikely to be viewed in a positive light when it comes to the global M&A stage, whereas IP created and owned in a jurisdiction that has transparent registration are easier to enforce where breaches have occurred. A jurisdiction with a well understood IP regime makes it more appealing for potential acquirers to execute transactions in.

Banking

When establishing an overseas entity, the ability to open and operate bank accounts capable of receiving inbound international payments, and being able to make sometimes substantial payments overseas is critical, yet often a real pain point.

Currency

Having a studio in a country which has a volatile domestic currency can make life very difficult when operating in international markets. As pretty much all user acquisition and ad monetization pricing is priced in USD, currency fluctuations can make UA calculations extremely difficult. Companies often choose to anchor their core monetization and spend on user acquisition to a stable currency, normally USD, in order to insulate away from currency fluctuations.

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CEO & Founder at Pollen VC - London, we provide devs early access to revenues earned from the app stores so they can rapidly reinvest https://pollen.vc

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Martin Macmillan

CEO & Founder at Pollen VC - London, we provide devs early access to revenues earned from the app stores so they can rapidly reinvest https://pollen.vc